Archive for Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trip west leaves Cardinal wrestlers with tough questions

January 31, 2008

Eudora's wrestlers didn't wrestle to the peak of their potential, but contrary to conventional wisdom, that may be a good thing.

The Cardinals placed seventh out of eight teams at the Concordia Round-Robin Dual Tournament. The overall placing was a disappointment, though a few individuals managed to have impressive weekends.

"In the past, we've gone out there and wrestled kind of well and maybe we got a little complacent and didn't push as hard in the last phase of the year," coach Bill DeWitt said. "We didn't do that well, so that tells me we need to push. We're aware we're not anywhere close to where we want to be and that's a good motivator."

Eudora went 1-6 on the day, beating Sabetha 38-33 for the lone victory despite having open weight-classes at 215 and heavyweight, two opens that have been a constant thorn in Eudora's side in dual action this year.

Teams get six points for a pin or forfeit, so two forfeits was equal to two possible pins of the opponent. It can make for a big swing, as much as 24 points if the Cards were able to field competitive kids at those weights.

Only three teams - Valley Center, defending 3A state champion Beloit and Concordia - beat Eudora by more than that margin. Those three teams placed one, two and three, respectively.

Eudora fell Saturday to Concordia 52-18, Pratt 36-28 and Beloit 51-24. The second day it fell to Chapman 52-30, Minneapolis 46-27, Valley Center 51-21 and beat Sabetha 38-33.

"We scored pretty much around the same points in every dual we competed in, which tells me exactly what's happening," DeWitt said. "About four or five of our kids wrestled really well, and the rest of the kids need to get after it a little bit more."

Among those kids having strong showings was sophomore Cody Salzman, who went 7-0 one week after capturing first place at a tournament in Paola.

Salzman is on a roll and hasn't lost since dropping back down to 103 pounds, the class he wrestled in last year.

Seniors Travis Clarke, Evan Meyers and Jake Love all had strong weekends as well.

Meyers was 4-0 before dislocating his pinky finger on the second day of action. DeWitt pulled him out of the tournament as a precautionary measure, but doesn't expect Meyers to miss any more time.

Love was 6-1 while Clarke went 5-2. DeWitt said both were in tough brackets and continued to progress to where they will need to be come the postseason.

As for some of the younger kids on the roster, they could've been intimidated by such strong opposition.

"You drive out into the middle of western Kansas so you're going to run into some farm kids. And you're going to run into cities that really support their wrestling teams," DeWitt said. "The crowd there was phenomenal, and our kids aren't used to that atmosphere."

Whereas Salzman and the rest of the consistently successful wrestlers probably gained confidence by experiencing success against stiff competition, DeWitt is concerned the trip will have the opposite effect on his younger wrestlers such as sophomore Dalton Hladkey and juniors Jackson Wiley and Derek Scrimsher.

"There are some things we can do," DeWitt said. "Collectively, we just need to be a little more aggressive, which can be hard to teach. And we need to get a little better at what we call mat-sense, which can be learned but it takes time."

DeWitt said some part of the reason kids from Western Kansas schools may have more of that awareness on the mat is because there is high participation in kids' wrestling and summer wrestling programs.

He said he's looking for Eudora's younger wrestlers to make some positive strides this week. The team won't wrestle in any tournament but will have its version of senior night. With strong community support, some of these kids could gain some confidence while wrestling in front of their home crowd.

"Raise the Roof", the team's final regular season meet of the year, is Thursday. De Soto and Anderson County will travel to Eudora for duals.

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